NCAA OUTDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS:

Hogs' Jacobus 2nd again in pole vault

By: Bob Clark Special to the Democrat-Gazette
Published: Friday, June 8, 2018
Arkansas' Lexi Jacobus competes in the pole vault invitational Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, during the Tyson Invitational in the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas' Lexi Jacobus competes in the pole vault invitational Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, during the Tyson Invitational in the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville.

EUGENE, Ore. -- Everything was going well for Lexi Jacobus as she sought a women's pole vault title at the NCAA Track and Field Championships.

The Arkansas junior had cleared five consecutive heights Thursday at Hayward Field on her first attempt. Then came an initial try at 14-11, with only Jacobus and Olivia Gruver of Kentucky left in the competition.

Gruver, who had misses at lower heights, went over on her first attempt this time, Jacobus didn't and then passed her next two attempts at that height, knowing she was stuck in second if neither cleared a higher bar. They didn't, and Jacobus was left as the runner-up for a second consecutive year, after winning the competition in 2016.

"You always want to go number one but I'm happy with what I did," Jacobus said. "I was going good until that bar [at 14-11] so I'm a little disappointed with the result."

On her final attempt at 15-1 which would have won her the title, Jacobus said, "I had so much adrenaline, I kind of ran myself [too close to the pit] and didn't really give myself a shot at that bar."

Tori Hoggard, considered one of the top contenders along with Jacobus, her twin sister, failed in three attempts at 14-1 1/4 after clearing 13-7 1/4 to finish tied for 12th, a disappointment to Jacobus as well.

"We have such a unique bond I'm going to be emotional over it," Jacobus said. "I know she's upset.

"It definitely was a little bit of a distraction."

In the lone men's event contested Thursday, Gabe Moore of Arkansas finished ninth in the decathlon with 7,670 points, 25 short of eighth place. Derek Jacobus, Lexi's husband, was 16th with 7,236 points.

The Razorbacks advanced three women to the Saturday finals of running events during Thursday's qualifying: Nikki Hiltz in the 1,500, Devin Clark in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and Janeek Brown in the 100 hurdles.

Hiltz found the easiest path to a final by running away from her competitors to win the second heat of the 1,500 semifinals in 4:14.09.

"I always try to win my heat so it was good," Hiltz said. "The plan was to test my fitness the last 200 and I felt really good the last hundred."

Clark took fifth in the second heat of the steeplechase in 9:57.19 for an automatic berth into the final, though she wasn't sure of her status until a competitor let her know.

"About halfway through [Thursday's semifinal], I realized, 'You can do this, you have to make it to the final,' " Clark said

Brown, a freshman, ran a personal best 12.80 to finish second in her hurdles heat, and the time was the fourth-fastest overall.

"In the starting blocks, I was saying to myself, 'the field has experience and this is my first championship,'" Brown said. "I was [like], 'let's maintain my composure and do what I have to do."

She wasn't sure she could have run much better, not even clipping one hurdle, a rare occurrence for her, she said.

"I feel it was near to perfect execution of the race," Brown said. "It had to come together sooner or later and it did at the right time."

In the 100 meters, Arkansas State University's Caitland Smith was sixth in her heat in 11.46, with Arkansas' Jada Baylark eighth in 11.51 as they both failed to advance.

The Arkansas women's 400 relay team also was eliminated, finishing third in its heat in 43.57, while its 1,600 relay team finished last in its heat in 3:40.65 to also fall short of the final.

Sports on 06/08/2018

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